Letters, 24 July: Devon mismanagement, practice assessor conduct and cycling to see clients

I’ve got on my bike to visit clients

I appreciate that for some workers in some areas, a car is a necessity in order to do their job (“Running on empty”). But for the past year I’ve been using a bike to get to work and back, and for the past four months I’ve been using it to visit clients.

I’m lucky in that my senior helps by allocating cases to me that are accessible by bike as much as she can, and Edinburgh has a good network of cycle paths in the catchment area I cover. Edinburgh is hilly and the weather is usually wet, windy or both, but it’s manageable. Workers in flatter, balmier areas should have no problem. I never have to worry about petrol or parking costs and I get at least an hour of exercise every day.

For those workers who need a car for work, but are fed up of subsidising their employer, I suggest they consider not using their own car and insist on using pool cars. If cars are required to do the job, the employer should be providing them, in the same way they provide desks, telephones, computers, etc.

A few weeks of struggling to meet the demands for pool cars might help employers to appreciate the benefits they gain from workers using their own cars.

Kirsten Hey

Occupational therapist


Practice assessors are not bullies

I have had the complete opposite experience to your recent correspondent (“Our practice assessors are bullies”, letters, 10 July.

I too am attending a very well-established university completing the social work degree, but my experience has been that the tutors at the university have been the ones that have been extremely unsupportive and are using bullying tactics.

While at my practice placement my assessor has been the one person whom I have been able to turn to for help and advice without fear of being belittled, made to feel as if I am stupid or incompetent.

If only my relationship with my personal tutor were as good. Whenever I have tutorials with this person I am made to feel that I am a nuisance for asking for any advice. I thought that our personal tutors were supposed to be our mentors.

Name and address withheld

Contact GSCC over assessor conduct

We were deeply concerned to read that some social work students have been advised to wait until they graduate to raise concerns with the General Social Care Council over the conduct of practice assessors (“Our practice assessors are bullies”, letters, 10 July).

Universities are responsible for ensuring the quality and suitability of placements and should have robust processes to ensure unsuitable placements are not used.

However, social work students who do encounter behaviour they consider inappropriate either on placement or by the university should in no way feel that they are powerless.

We expect universities to take such issues seriously and, where an issue arises relevant to the conduct of a registered social worker, students have the right to contact the GSCC with their concerns.

Mike Wardle

Chief executive,

General Social Care Council

Devon: the insult and the injury

I am a social worker in Devon and feel there are many inaccuracies in David Johnstone’s three pieces – especially the third one in the 17 July issue (“Integrated care teams to transform Devon landscape”).

He is describing the political plan which is far from what is happening on the ground and I feel very concerned that Community Care is taking the director’s word verbatim.

Devon has not got an integrated health and social care staff. We are in phase three – social workers have been asked to “express a preference” as to which team they would like to work in and possibly be interviewed. We will not know which cluster team we are in until the end of July. The teams are not even decided yet, let alone integrated.

I wish it was true that complex care teams (CCTs) “have time to be proactive”. For the first time we have a (growing) waiting list. The staff of community care workers has been reduced by 50% and the call centres and brokers are very busy, even overwhelmed.

In terms of the claim about “local staff” – the re-staffing has meant some staff are driving up to 80 miles to their new jobs while the original local staff are awaiting redundancy.

The “CCT pilots” referred to were done in Exeter distances and resources are very different in a city so the pattern doesn’t follow for the rest of rural Devon. Also there is a rapid response team in Exeter which picks up emergency work – we do not have these in the rest of Devon. And the staffing numbers in Exeter were high during the pilot.

In relation to the “electronic records”, our colleagues in health will be receiving half a day training to use the system we still struggle with after eight months. It’s cumbersome and exasperating to use.

Finally he claims “the transformation programme is successful”, claiming user satisfaction and staff enthusiasm. The transformation is NOT complete, we have a long way to go. None of the service users I have contact with like it at all – phoning a call centre and having to repeat endless details.

It has been badly managed throughout and reading Johnstone’s spin adds insult to injury.

Name and address withheld

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